Assalamu Aleykum WRWB
I was born in Nottingham, UK – famous for Robin Hood. I was speaking with a murid many years ago and explained that Robin Hood’s real name was Raul Bin Hud, he converted to Islam following the Crusades many centuries ago. This somewhat makes sense because whenever he is portrayed in pictures, he wears a green pointy hat, the colour of Nottingham is green and even in films made by Hollywood, he has a Muslim companion. Can you shed any truth on this story and reveal any true history or knowledge?
wa `alaykum salam,
With the color green his identifying mark and his association with springtime and its festivals, it would seem that Robin Hood is a popular form of the Green Man. In Islam this mystery is named the Green – al-Khidr, peace be upon him – and as Saint George – another of his forms – he is no less than the patron saint of England.
The Robin Hood legend provides a setting in which signs relating to the special destiny of England appear; but the mercurial nature of the Green Man prevents the fixation of an historical Robin Hood. Specifics of space and time shift with the evolving stories; and despite the location of “Robin Hood’s Grave,” one thing that is certain is the perennial life within the legendary figure.
No doubt the strangeness of the name “Robin Hood” suggests a foreign derivation, with an Arabic one more likely than not. Concerning a rumored conversion, it was on the contrary the historical Prince John – to whom Robin Hood has become typically opposed in recent stories – who offered to convert to Islam for political gain; but perhaps even in this opposition there is significance.
Out of the cloud of legend, certain perennial elements might be given special consideration, such as: the upholding of justice that regulates from outside, or rather above, the limits of mundane authority; a Marian focus for the chivalry of the “Merry Men;” the presence of a warrior friar named Tuck (or “rapier”); Robin Hood’s distancing from and even condemnation of Crusade; and, of course, the importance of archery, that the Seal of Prophets – peace be upon him – called “a characteristic of Islam.”
Beyond these examples, a most significant and very recent development in the legend is the inclusion of a Muslim among the Merry Men, to which you refer, and represents the first such contribution to the legend in centuries. However, this contribution was not the work of Hollywood; rather it may be traced to a British television production of the 1980s, with Hollywood following. This series was noteworthy also in that “Robin Hood” was not depicted as an individual, but rather as a function.
With this in mind, and assuming that the murid was correct in identifying the name “bin Hud,” is there any trace of a connection between the Prophet Hud and al-Khidr, peace be upon them? In fact there is, from the teachings of the Greatest Shaykh Muhyiddin, may Allah sanctify his secret, concerning the spiritual hierarchy. Ibn `Arabi makes reference to the Rijal al-Haybat wa ‘l-Jalal who assist the Awtad, who in turn are responsible for the stabilization of the world. Remarkable indeed is the fact that while he identifies al-Khidr among the Awtad, he identifies among the Rijal one who is “on the heart of Hud.”
W ‘Allahu `Alam.